You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2016 11 01Article 482561

Opinions of Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Columnist: thechronicle.com.gh

Sorry Mr Rawlings, but Nogokpo, Antoa powers not legally recognised

Former President Jerry John Rawlings Former President Jerry John Rawlings

Former President Rawlings is reportedly accusing the leadership of his party (NDC) of sponsoring the presidential candidate of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), Dr Henry Lartey, to drag him (Rawlings) to the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) over the alleged $5 million he received from the former Nigerian dictator, General Sani Abacha.

“About three days before his (Dr. Lartey) drama, I got information that he was going to be financially rewarded for what he did. And incidentally, he was instigated, not by people in the opposition,” Mr. Rawlings said in a meeting with some queenmothers. “Why are people worried about the level of integrity we’ve tried to maintain? We say we are Christians; we swear on the Bible; Muslims on the Qur’an; I’d like to invite people like him (Lartey) that we go traditional as well. That we invite the white man’s technology (lie detector) to also come and verify the truthfulness, the integrity of my word, and for him to be simply asked who paid him to do what he did?” Mr. Rawlings added.

It is instructive to note that when this alleged $5 million bribery allegation broke in the late 1990s, then President Rawlings never made any official comment on it. It was rather members of his government who went to his defence, insisting that the President never took the money from Abacha. Despite this staunch defence, the same Rawlings government blocked a move by the opposition, led by the then Member of Parliament for New Juabeng North, Mr. Hackman Owusu Agyemang, to investigate the issue.

But, many years down the line, Mr Rawlings has finally owned up, admitting that he took the money, but it was rather $2 million, and not $5million quoted by the Ghanaian media. Since the former president and his surrogates had all along denied his taking the bribe money, how can he now convince Ghanaians that he took the money all right, and that it was not $5 million, but rather $2 million?

Certainly, Ghanaians would not believe what he is saying, and the only arbiter now is CHRAJ and EOCO.

The Chronicle does not, therefore, see anything wrong with the action taken by Dr. Henry Lartey to get Mr Rawlings to answer for the whereabouts of the remaining $3 million. Whether Dr. Lartey is being sponsored by the leaders of the NDC or not, does not matter – what matters is the truth.

It was the same Rawlings who championed probity and accountability during his hey days, and yet, he is today trying to run away from it. To us, at The Chronicle, his call on Dr. Lartey to go to a shrine and swear is irrelevant. In fact, the 1992 Constitution, which he promulgated, does not recognise the powers of deities in the adjudication of legal matters.

Going to Antoa, Nogokpo, among other deities, to exonerate him, is a personal liberty available to Mr Rawlings. He cannot use that as a ruse to stop investigations into matters that border on legalities.

If the former president feels he has nothing to hide, this is the opportune time for him to clear his name. Attacking Dr. Henry Lartey and leaders of the NDC, over his impending appearance at the two constitutional bodies, creates the impression that he has something to hide, and this does not augur well for his own reputation.

As the maxim goes, he who comes to equity, must come with clean hands.

As we noted earlier, Mr Rawlings had always championed probity and accountability, so why is he now agitated, because a citizen of this country has dragged him to bodies set up by the Constitution?